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on 15 October 2013
This book is the perfect introduction and reference manual for Shetland lace knitting, gathering together the major Shetland-style lace knitting stitches in one place. It is well-written and easy to understand, with patterns both charted and written. It gives instructions on how to construct your own lace shawls and scarves, and gives enough information to enable you to understand more advanced charts. I started in reverse with difficult books like Gladys Amedro's, and wish I had started with this one.

The projects at the end of the book are just to get you started and show you how to use the stitches, so I don't believe they detract from the quality of the book.

Definitely worth buying if you want to try your hand at lace knitting, or expand your range.
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on 12 October 2013
This is the book I wish I'd had when I started out knitting Shetland Lace. It's great for the beginner and is laid out very clearly. There are a few pages on the history and culture of Shetland lace knitting, before moving on to essential techniques. Double page spreads cover the following topics: 'Tools and equipment'; 'Yarn'; 'The basics'; 'Working from a chart'; 'Edges and seams'; 'Picking up stitches'; 'Dealing with mistakes'; 'Dressing lace' (stretching it out); and 'Designing Shetland Lace'.

Of use to the beginner would be the comprehensive guide to yarn overs and the kinds of decreases used in lace knitting. The diagrams are clearly drawn, and the text instructions are clear and simple too. Also useful to the beginner would be how to read lace charts. There are handy tips - like using a lifeline - that a beginner wouldn't necessarily know about.

Intermediate knitters will be more interested in the design section, what the author calls "putting the right patterns together in the right way". She covers construction shapes, charting, and putting motifs together. There are short sections on designing a stole, a scarf, and a christening gown.

The best feature of the book - and its real selling point for Shetland lace enthusiasts - is the stitch directory. The author categorises stitch patterns not in terms of "difficulty" but in terms of "concentration level" (because as she rightly points out, lace knitting is easy when you know the stitches but some patterns require more concentration than others!). Motifs include traditional Shetland ones like 'Cat's Paw', 'Fern', and 'Print of the Wave' as well as some others from the author's own experience. There are motifs for centre sections, edge insertions, and lace edging. The idea is that you can pick and choose a motif, an insertion, and an edging, and put them together to make your own design.

There are a few projects at the end of the book: a cobweb shawl, a hat and scarf set in chunky yarn, a modern version of a hap shawl, a baby set, some lacy mitts, socks, and a small crescent shawl. I personally found these a little disappointing but that's only because I was hoping for something more traditional and challenging - 'The Magic of Shetland Lace' isn't really that kind of book. It's main aim is to get knitters to understand that Shetland lace isn't challenging! It's also trying to capture a younger generation of knitters with updated and modernised patterns. Instead of the traditional Shetland yarn colours like white, black, and fawn, the author has gone for bright colours and dyed yarns. The use of colour in the book - in the photos of Shetland scenery especially - makes the book a feast for the eyes. So it would make a good gift because it's a real pleasure to look at.
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VINE VOICEon 24 August 2017
A lovely book which is not exactly what I thought it would be. In reality it's a stitch guide for lace knitting.

I already have a couple of stitch guides but none of them include the details included here - suggestions about sselecting yarn and how to follow diagrams and a dozen other details.

Like another reviewer, I thought the book would include patterns for the cover pictures - it doesn't. However you will be able to work out how to do them.
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on 15 October 2013
This is a well-thought out book for those who want an adventure into lace knitting. The sampler of hexagons, pictured in purple as one of the items on the front cover, certainly made me go "wow", and want to knit it.

There are some pages where the photography of the lace stiches has not done them justice. For example, the photos on page 53 are as clear as a bell, on page 54 distinctly out of focus. The page on picking up stitches from edges has excellent "after" photos" but none "before". I do rather feel that the author put in a lot of work and then the publishers restricted the number of pages she could have. This is a pity. I am puzzled over the inconsistency of some patterns having both charts and written instructions, while others don't. The projects at the end are not as inspiring as one would hope, but I did enjoy the short explanation of names under each pattern.

I would have liked more on the history of Shetland lace, to explain the "magic" of the title, why it became so successful, and a small map showing trade routes. Many atlases curtail the sea, making the islands look just off the Northern edge of Scotland. In reality the sea voyage is many hours. It was the fishing industry that opened up the communications of these otherwise remote islands, and ought to have been mentioned.

These are only little niggles about a long-awaited title from a very talented knitter. I am learning a lot from this book, and really pleased to have it, and to recommend it.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 17 October 2013
I love fair-isle and lace knitting, both hailing from Scottish islands. That's not to say I am traditional when it comes to knitting, I like my knitwear to have a contemporary twist. This book looks at Shetland lace - those incredible shawls that are so fine they can pass through a wedding ring. Of course, many knitters these days opt for the quicker, the better, which means chunky yarns and big needles. Yet there is something special about Shetland lace. Intricate, delicate and so fine. I would put the Shetland shawl at the top of my list of accessories every woman should have. It's refined and a true heirloom. Shetland lace patterns can look so complicated, that none but skilled knitters would attempt them, so Elizabeth has set out to show that even novice knitters can. Techniques are clearly shown, with clear step by step instructions and charts. There is a stitch dictionary, so you can design your own items. There are projects too, not just shawls but socks, fingerless gloves and a baby set. I love the Crescent Shawl, but I can't work out the pattern and I have knitted many lace projects in over 40 years. I like the stitch directory and techniques sections and the fact that there are variations on the stitches for the projects. Charts are not always easy to follow, especially when a book closes on itself, it needed to lie flat. I would much have preferred row by row written instructions.
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on 26 April 2017
A very well
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on 7 September 2014
An excellent reference for lace knitting and good ideas on designing your own lacy patterns by altering the stitch and row counts. Only a few actual knitting patterns, but lots of stitch patterns.
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on 17 October 2013
I very good book to start your journey into shawl knitting with 1 or 2 ply yarn. I have my next project from the book lined up, yarn came today. The book arrived well within the time frame, well packed. An absolute must for learning about fine shawl knitting.
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on 24 June 2014
Not what i expected from the blurb. Patterns are not as pictured and it is more a book on how to design your own shetland lace patterns which isnt what i wanted
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on 14 December 2013
Fabulous book. Great section on the history of Shetland Lace. Perfect for beginners and experienced knitters. Includes an extensive stitch and motif directory. For experienced knitters there is guidance on how to plan your own designs. Some projects are included at the end of the book that are suitable for all knitters, using a variety of yarn weights.
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